October 18, 2018–January 31, 2019
Cahiers d’Art in Paris presented a solo show by Lucas Arruda and a new monograph on the artist. While all of Arruda’s works are untitled, this exhibition, like each of his solo presentations to date, was named Deserto-Modelo. Drawn from private collections, on view were intimately sized paintings of landscapes and seascapes characterized by their subtle rendition of light as well as new prints edited by Cahiers d’Art, a historic publisher that works directly with artists on limited-edition books, prints, and catalogues raisonnés. Made in the Paris workshop of American printer Michael Woolworth, Arruda’s print works are an extension of his painting practice, which focuses on near-abstract, atmospheric compositions created from memory.
Published by Cahiers d’Art with three different cover images, the monograph explores Arruda’s pursuit of light in his paintings. The book includes seventy-five illustrations and texts by Fernanda Brenner, curator and director of Pivô, an independent art center in São Paulo, and Mexico-based curator and writer Chris Sharp, as well as excerpts from a conversation between the artist and Hans Ulrich Obrist.
Image: Lucas Arruda, Untitled, 2018
May 20–August 12, 2018
Paintings and an installation by Lucas Arruda were presented at Fondation Beyeler in Basel as part of Nature and Abstraction, an exhibition exploring perceptions of the natural world in works from the Beyeler’s collection. Room 21 was devoted to small-format paintings from the artist’s Deserto-Modelo series (2015–18), while an adjacent room featured a projection of hand-painted slides based on these works.
Painted from memory and characterized by their subtle rendition of light, Arruda’s landscapes and seascapes depict atmospheric conditions with only the subtlest suggestion of a horizon line. "It’s the idea of a landscape rather than a real place," he explains. Using evocative and textured brushstrokes, Arruda foregrounds the materiality of paint while also recalling historical associations with the notion of the Romantic sublime. The title "Deserto-Modelo" references the Brazilian poet João Cabral de Melo Neto, for whom the idea of a desert is conflated with timeless and irrational thought. Similarly, as the Beyeler notes, Arruda invokes the desert as a metaphysical realm, with "modelo" signifying not only a model, but also a kind of vision or state.
June 6–September 8, 2019
Lucas Arruda’s first large-scale institutional solo exhibition was presented at the Fridericianum, in Kassel. Organized by the museum’s director, Moritz Wesseler, the show was called Deserto-Modelo, a title shared by the majority of the artist’s solo exhibitions to date and the name given to his ongoing series of untitled works depicting landscapes and seascapes. "I used it in the sense of a prototype or testing ground that could lead to something, or not, allied with the metaphor of the desert understood as an atemporal place that can’t be grasped through language because there aren’t sufficient visual elements to describe it," Arruda explains of the title, Deserto-Modelo, which is a term from the late Brazilian poet João Cabral de Melo Neto; "The recurring title also subverts the logic of the exhibition as a conclusion or a self-contained moment frozen in time. Rather, it’s an ongoing series of model-deserts and for as long as I continue to research in this direction, I’ll go on using this title to emphasize the idea of repetition." The exhibition at the Fridericianum included a number of these paintings, as well as prints, light installations, slide projections, and films.
Painted from memory and characterized by their subtle rendition of light, the Deserto-Modelo paintings for which Arruda is best known are devoid of specific reference points, but differentiate themselves in their portrayal of atmospheric conditions. The small compositions are grounded by an ever-present, if sometimes faint, horizon line that offers a perception of distance. "The results are views that invite a sense of immediacy, and ask us to focus our attention onto a small surface," critic and curator Ellen Mara De Wachter writes in a text accompanying the artist’s Pinault Collection residency, in 2017; "as he builds up and scrapes off layer upon layer of oil paint, the residue of this process gathers around the edges of the canvas, like the foam that bubbles on the sand in the wake of a wave. The intimate scale of the paintings requires viewers physically to lean in, called towards the picture so as to appreciate these painterly textures and visual effects."
"There’s a combination of mathematical and metaphysical impulses in my work," Arruda says. "It’s the idea of a landscape rather than a real place…. And also trying to uncover a mental dimension, a mood, a sensation, a state of mind suspended within the medium of paint."
Image: Lucas Arruda. Photo by Gui Gomes